More questions about scholarships for Rep. Johnson's family

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on September 7, 2010 at 7:51 PM

This week, two letters reportedly appeared in the office of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson's opponent — letters he hopes will end her re-election efforts.

"A supporter walked in our door and laid it on our desk," said Stephen Broden, the Republican clergyman who is seeking to unseat the veteran Democrat.

If they're authentic, the letters reveal Johnson wanted scholarship money from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to go directly to her relatives.

"I would like for their checks to be made out to them, instead of the university," said the undated letters on Congressional stationery that bore the signature "Eddie Bernice Johnson."

"I think what it reveals is that she was a little more active than she led on," Broden said.

Last week, Johnson tried to move beyond the controversy, saying the scholarship program was the responsibility of staffers. She indicated that she was too busy to review applications personally.

"I've acknowledged I made a mistake," Johnson said. "I should have given it more attention. I did not, and that's why I paid every penny back."

Rep. Johnson was in Washington on Tuesday. A staff member told News 8 she will not commenting on the letters at this time.

The Dallas Morning News discovered that 23 scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation have gone to Johnson's relatives and to children of a top staffer.

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at SMU, has been following the controversy. "It's a terrible reflection on her judgment, and it's a hit to her reputation, but I don't think it's enough to get her beat," he said.

Jillson believes Broden may still be too conservative to beat Johnson, but he said a House Ethics Committee investigation could now be more likely.

Johnson said last week that she didn't know the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation prohibited awarding the scholarships to her relatives.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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